When we invite families from our church for a barbeque, Joshua plays well with the younger children even though there’s often a large age gap. They call Joshua their ‘older church brother’. Joshua’s thoughts are deep and he’s rich in emotions. He’s more detailed compared to my three daughters, and is firm on what he likes and dislikes. Although I have five children, my way of dealing with them has to be different, as each has their own different personalities. One way which works for a particular child does not work for another.
The way I interact with Joshua clearly had to be different from my three older daughters. From a young age, his questions about the Bible were sharp and well thought-out. It wasn’t easy for me to come up with an answer suitable for his age, but he accepted if I explained well. I was glad to be able to have such deep and mature conversations with him.
Recently, I’ve become a little anxious of the fact that Joshua is entering adolescence. This week, he asked me and Yeojun (his younger brother) to leave the room when he was changing his clothes. A characteristic of adolescence that stands out for me is their disrespectful speech and actions. When scolded for this, young children listen and obey, but adolescents just ignore. At the same time, I don’t think I can subdue him using my paternal authority, as the father-son relationship may go awry. Given my Korean cultural background, I struggle when my children are impolite or disrespectful. So I have started to pray that I patiently endure this time.
This week, we went to school to collect next year’s school uniform as Joshua enters secondary school. We met several of his close friends from primary school in the car park. As soon as he got on the car, he said ‘our car is a crappy car’ and said we should change our car soon. Joshua must have been embarrassed as our car is very old compared to his friends’ cars and often breaks down. I explained that a new car would require a lot of money, that pastors need to let go of money, and that even if I stand in front of the queen, I will be respectful but will not be intimidated. But this type of exemplary answers wasn’t going to satisfy him.
How can I teach him that the gospel is far more worthy than worldly wealth and honour? My head suddenly became full with thoughts, as I thought hard about how I can help Joshua apply the teachings of the Bible, when facing his new secondary school friends and the secular education system. I realised that the days of simple obedience are over, and that I really need to put him in God’s hands. That thought occupied my week.
Although it’s difficult to be a parent and watch your child grow over the various stages of their life, I still feel most privileged to be able to be deeply involved in another person’s life. I sincerely hope that God will raise our Joshua well.